A great debate about Obama and Appalachia

Dee Davis got the ball rolling. Listen to what "little blue dot" has to say.


Joan Walsh
May 20, 2008 9:35PM (UTC)

There's a fascinating discussion going on in the letters thread about Dee Davis's piece on Appalachian voters and Barack Obama. Most people are grappling with real issues, but there are more than a handful of people suggesting Obama doesn't need "the ignoramus vote" and "The time of being nice to stupid people is over!"

But I loved this letter so much I want to reprint it here:

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From an Appalachian Outpost

Some of these letters break my heart. They really do. I'm a little blue dot in my family, and an even smaller blue dot in Appalachia. I've seen the worst. All the stereotypes that get played on television--I've seen those in real life. I've seen the best--the stuff that wouldn't make it onto the news in a million years, because it doesn't fit into the narrative that the media wants to play. Sometimes I feel like I have a foot in two worlds.

I could take offense at those who want to just "leave us behind", but I choose not to. I get the frustration. I sit around at family gatherings and when the talk turns political...believe me, I feel the frustration on a micro level. But I love them. Despite everything. I can't let these people go. They're my family. And you can't let Appalachia go. Ok...so a lot of you don't love us. But we're part of America. We're in your family. We just are. And there's no changing that. So you can go around us. Or you can try to work through us and with us. Maybe you can pull this election off and Obama can win the national election without us.(For what it's worth, I hope he IS elected.) But if he can, does that mean he should actively ignore rural America? That strategy may work in the short term, but it damages the Democratic party in the long run. Because there WILL be a time you need rural America in the future. I know. It sucks. It's like an elephant herd. We can only go as fast as the slowest member. It's maddening sometimes. But instead of giving into the temporary release that name calling and condescenion brings you, maybe we as democrats can show a little imagination, and a little compassion. (Even if you don't feel like they "deserve" it.) People very rarely feel inclined to vote for a party whose membership calls them stupid, racist, etc. Maybe you're right. We may well be. But do you want to be right, do you want to feel superior,or do you want to win? Drop the condescenion. Show some civility. Show some interest in how to make life better for these people. It's not as emotionally gratifying as maybe indulging in moral outrage at our "stupidity" but it may get you where you want to go.

-- little blue dot


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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